Monday, May 24, 2010

Yellowstone and Beyond

Today we hit the highlight of our vacation. Yellowstone. After we enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel we set off down the Buffalo Bill Scenic Highway. It is just as Theodore Rosevelt proclaimed, "the most scenic 52 miles in America." The roads and tunnels follow the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Shoshone River through deep gorges and mountain passes. The Shoshone National Forest lines the route.

Two miles before we reached the East Entrance to Yellowstone NP we arrived Pahaska Teepee, which is not a teepee at all, but instead the name of Bill Cody's original lodge. Now, it is a gift shop, restaurant, hotel and gas station. So we gassed up and bought some souvenirs.

It was cold. Not too surprising since we had checked the forecast. It was 27F degrees when we crossed into the park. The girls were delighted to see that snow (sometimes over a foot deep) still blanketed the ground. The one item at the last minute that I decided to leave in Texas was their snowsuits. Still we were able to improvise and they did have long johns on. They made snow angels and giggled in delight when they fell into a deep part.

Because it is still so cold, Yellowstone Lake was still frozen over. Just mind boggling since it is already late May. The Ranger told us that it was the perfect time to see Grizzlies, but we were not so fortunate. However in Hayden Valley we got to watch a coyote hunting some small mammal while the buffalos grazed and lounged nearby. They still look so thin from the harsh Yellowstone winters.

Inside Yellowstone you start to absorb the energy from the land. It was invigorating and is probably why we are all exhausted now. We saw gurgling and bubbling thermal springs, Roaring Mountain, Canyon if the Yellowstone, Upper and Lower Falls (the lower being twice the height of Niagra!!). There were Elk, Mule Deer, Chipmunks and Squirrels. And a special and rare treat...wolves!! The sulphur springs that create interesting formations in Mammoth were also a sight to see!

I am so thankful we are returning there our way home. We hardly made a dent in all there is to see and do in Yellowstone. I mean, come on, we didn't even see Old Faithful!

15 or so miles from the North Entrance we crossed over into Montana, our sixth state. Montana is another gorgeous place. Valleys and high mountains with lots of beautiful rivers. It seems like every few miles there was a public river access for fishing. We were reminded that A River Runs Through It takes place here. We crossed where the Missouri River Headwaters meet in Three Forks, which was also the birthplace of Sacajawea, Juliane's favorite historical figure. The Lewis and Clark Expedition came through this area with her guidance.

In Butte, we crossed The Continental Divide. Sydney could have cared less and Juliane was napping so that was more of a cool landmark for mom and dad.

So, tomorrow we make the last leg of our journey north. It has gone by so fast, it's hard to believe we are almost there!!

We wish you sweet dreams from Missoula, Montana.

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